12 Roof Repair Tips: Find and Fix a Leaking Roof

12 Roof Repair Tips: Find and Fix a Leaking Roof

You can stop leaks yourself-no experience necessary. We show you how to track down and fix the most common types of roof leaks. Most leaks take only minutes to repair.

Roof Leak Overview  12 Roof Repair Tips: Find and Fix a Leaking Roof FH09JAU FIXROO 02

Roof Leak Overview

If you have water stains that extend across ceilings or run down walls, the cause is probably a roof leak. Tracking down the leak is the hard part; the fixes are usually pretty easy. We'll show you some simple tricks for finding and repairing most of the common types of roof leaks. But if you live in the Snow Belt and in the winter you have leaks only on warm or sunny days, you probably have ice dams. We won't go into those fixes in this story. Check out this article for more on preventing ice dams.

If you have a roof leak, you'd better fix it immediately, even if it doesn't bother you much or you're getting a new roof next year. Even over a short time, small leaks can lead to big problems, such as mold, rotted framing and sheathing, destroyed insulation and damaged ceilings. The flashing leak that caused an expensive repair bill was obvious from the ceiling stains for over two years. If the homeowner had dealt with it right away, the damage and subsequent repairs would have been minimal.

How to Find Roof Leaks  12 Roof Repair Tips: Find and Fix a Leaking Roof FH09JAU FIXROO 03

How to Find Roof Leaks

When you're trying to track down a leak, start by looking at the roof uphill from the stains. (Plus: here's how to clean roof stains.) The first thing to look for is any roof penetrations. Items that penetrate the roof are by far the most common source of leaks. In fact, it's rare for leaks to develop in open areas of uninterrupted shingles, even on older roofs. Penetrations can include plumbing and roof vents, chimneys, dormers or anything else that projects through the roof. They can be several feet above the leak or to the right or left of it.

If you have attic access, the easiest way to track down a leak is to go up there with a flashlight and look for the evidence. There will be water stains, black marks or mold. But if access is a problem or you have a vaulted ceiling, you'll have to go up onto the roof and examine the suspect(s).

A Trick for Finding Difficult Leaks  12 Roof Repair Tips: Find and Fix a Leaking Roof FH09JAU FIXROO 01

A Trick for Finding Difficult Leaks

If a leak is difficult to find, enlist a helper and go up on the roof with a garden hose. Start low, soaking the area just above where the leak appears in the house. Isolate areas when you run the hose. For example, soak the downhill side of a chimney first, then each side, then the top on both sides. Have your helper stay inside the house waiting for the drip to appear. Let the hose run for several minutes in one area before moving it up the roof a little farther. Tell your helper to yell when a drip becomes visible. You'll be in the neighborhood of the leak. This process can take well over an hour, so be patient and don't move the hose too soon. Buy your helper dinner. If running water doesn't reveal the exact location of the leak, don't be timid. Start removing shingles in the suspect area. With them removed, there'll be evidence of the leak and you'll be able to track it down right to the source. You'll see discolored felt paper or water-stained or even rotted wood directly below and around it.

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Solution for a Small Leak

Some roof leaks are tough to locate. Sometimes the water shows up at a ceiling spot distant from the leak. If your ceiling has a plastic vapor barrier between the drywall and the attic insulation, push the insulation aside and look for flow stains on the plastic. Often water runs to openings in the vapor barrier, such as at ceiling light fixtures.

If you can't see any telltale flow marks, and since the stain is fairly small, look at the underside of the roof for 'shiners.' A shiner is a nail that missed the framing member, in this case when the carpenter nailed the roof sheathing to the rafters. Moisture that escapes into the cold attic from the rooms below often condenses on cold nails. Sometimes you can spot this if you climb up into your attic on a cold night. The nails will look white because they're frosted. When the attic heats up a bit during the day, the frost melts and drips, then the nails frost up at night again and so on. The solution is to simply clip the nail with a side-cutting pliers.

Fix Plumbing Vent Boots  12 Roof Repair Tips: Find and Fix a Leaking Roof FH09JAU FIXROO 04 05

Fix Plumbing Vent Boots

Plumbing vent boots can be all plastic, plastic and metal, or even two-piece metal units. Check plastic bases for cracks and metal bases for broken seams. Then examine the rubber boot surrounding the pipe. That can be rotted away or torn, allowing water to work its way into the house along the pipe. With any of these problems, you should buy a new vent boot to replace the old one. But if the nails at the base are missing or pulled free and the boot is in good shape, replace them with the rubber-washered screws used for metal roofing systems. You'll find them at any home center with the rest of the screws. You'll have to work neighboring shingles free on both sides. If you don't have extra shingles, be careful when you remove shingles so they can be reused. Use a flat bar to separate the sealant between the layers. Then you'll be able to drive the flat bar under the nail heads to pop out the nails.

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Fix Roof Vents

Check for cracked housings on plastic roof vents and broken seams on metal ones. You might be tempted to throw caulk at the problem, but that solution won't last long. There's really no fix other than replacing the damaged vents. Also look for pulled or missing nails at the base's bottom edge. Replace them with rubber-washered screws. In most cases, you can remove nails under the shingles on both sides of the vent to pull it free. There will be nails across the top of the vent too. Usually you can also work those loose without removing shingles. Screw the bottom in place with rubber-washered screws. Squeeze out a bead of caulk beneath the shingles on both sides of the vent to hold the shingles down and to add a water barrier. That's much easier than renailing the shingles.

Fix Walls and Dormers  12 Roof Repair Tips: Find and Fix a Leaking Roof FH09JAU FIXROO 08 09

Fix Walls and Dormers

Water doesn't always come in at the shingled surface. Often, wind-driven rain comes in from above the roof, especially around windows, between corner boards and siding, and through cracks and knotholes in siding. Dormer walls provide lots of spots where water can dribble down and enter the roof. Caulk can be old, cracked or even missing between the corner boards and between window edges and siding. Water penetrates these cracks and works its way behind the flashing and into the house. Even caulk that looks intact may not be sealing against the adjoining surfaces. Dig around with a putty knife to see if the area is sealed. Dig out any suspect caulk and replace it with a siliconized latex caulk. Also check the siding above the step flashing. Replace any cracked, rotted or missing siding, making sure the new piece overlaps the step flashing by at least 2 in. If you still have a leak, pull the corner boards free and check the overlapping flashing at the corner. Often, there's old, hardened caulk where the two pieces overlap at the inside corner.

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Complex Roof Problem

This roof leaks during the snowy part of winter and during storms in the summer, certainly due to poor flashing. The soffit that meets the roof is one of the toughest areas to waterproof. In the photo, you can still see signs of an ice dam. An ice dam occurs when snow melts and the water freezes when it hits the colder edges of your roof. Eventually, water pools behind the dam and works its way back up under the shingles and under the soffit until it finds an opening through the roof.

The solution begins with good flashing, since this should stop leaks from rainfall and might stop the leaks from ice dams as well. Begin by removing the shingles down to the wood sheathing and slip a strip of adhesive ice-and-water barrier (available where roofing products are sold) under the soffit/main roof joint. Depending on how the roofs join, you may have to cut a slot to work it in far enough. It should overlap another piece of ice-and-water barrier laid below, all the way down to the roof edge. This should cover the most leak-prone areas. Then reshingle, sliding metal step flashing behind the fascia board (the trim behind the gutter). The valley flashing, laid over the joint where the two roofs meet, should overlap the step flashing at least 2 in.

If leaks continue to occur from ice dams, consider installing roof edge heating cables. (Find them locally at hardware stores or home centers.) Improved attic insulation and ventilation are usually the best ways to prevent ice dams, but they might not be effective in this complicated roof situation.

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Fix Step Flashing

Step flashing is used along walls that intersect the roof. Each short section of flashing channels water over the shingle downhill from it. But if the flashing rusts through, or a piece comes loose, water will run right behind it, and into the house it goes. Rusted flashing needs to be replaced. That means removing shingles, prying siding loose, and then removing and replacing the step flashing. It's that simple. But occasionally a roofer forgets to nail one in place and it eventually slips down to expose the wall. Check out this article for more on installing your own step flashing.

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Don't Count on Caulk!

Rarely will caulk or roof cement cure a roof leak?at least for very long. You should always attempt a 'mechanical' fix whenever possible. That means replacing or repairing existing flashing instead of using any type of sealant. Only use caulk for very small holes and when flashing isn't an option.

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Fix Small Holes

Tiny holes in shingles are sneaky because they can cause rot and other damage for years before you notice the obvious signs of a leak. You might find holes left over from satellite dish or antenna mounting brackets or just about anything. And exposed, misplaced roofing nails should be pulled and the holes patched. Small holes are simple to fix, but the fix isn't to inject caulk in the hole. You'll fix this one with flashing.

Leaks Around Brick Chimneys  12 Roof Repair Tips: Find and Fix a Leaking Roof FH09JAU FIXROO 14

Leaks Around Brick Chimneys

All kinds of bad things can happen around brick chimneys. In fact, there are far too many to cover in this story. Flashing around chimneys can rust through if it's galvanized steel, especially at the 90-degree bend at the bottom. A quick but fairly long-term fix is to simply slip new flashing under the old rusted stuff. That way any water that seeps through will be diverted. The best fix, though, is to cut a saw kerf into the mortar and install new flashing. Get complete instructions on how to install chimney flashing.

8 Easy Ways to Repair or Refurbish Your Asbestos Roof

8 Easy Ways to Repair or Refurbish Your Asbestos Roof

Repairing your leaking asbestos roof has never been more straightforward. Here's eight easy ways to fix your deteriorating bolts and washers, safely seal asbestos sheets and fix those leaky cracks in your roof.
1) Asbestos Crack Repair Tape

2) Asbestos Roof Hole Repair

3) Bolt Hole Repairs

4) Sealing General Roof Sheet Damage

5) Asbestos Single Sheet Replacement

6) Refurbish With a Specialist Coating

7) Over Cladding

8) Repairing Roof Lights

1) Using Crack Repair Tape

Where cracks are obvious, crack repair tape is a fast way to stop leaks in asbestos cement roofing – but not all tapes are the same. Although it’s tempting to resort to commonplace products, many are bitumen based, meaning they're affected by UV light and can easily crack in the cold.

Our solution is a rubber-based tape. It's UV stable, maintains its flexibility, and never sets hard – essential on roofs with cracks, where repair materials require the same high degree of movement as the roof itself. This cost-effective solution is highly effective and straightforward, making it first on our list, and an essential tool in any asbestos crack repair. You can get everything you need to seal that crack with our easy to apply repair kit.

Learn more about the Crack Repair Kit

Asbestos roof repair kit 8 easy ways to repair or refurbish your asbestos roof 8 Easy Ways to Repair or Refurbish Your Asbestos Roof asbestos roof repair kit

Need a simple and reliable repair solution? We also recommend using the fibre reinforced instant repair StopGap.

2) Asbestos Roof Hole Repair

In emergencies, you need a product that works quickly. Again, we’d urge caution with some of the well-known products that claim to work in water and cold. To some extent they do, but when the integrity and weatherproofing of your premises is at stake, you really need a longer-lasting solution. We’re sure you would prefer not to keep sending someone back onto your roof to ‘repair the repair’. That's why we've created the DIY Asbestos Roof Hole Repair Kit, with everything you need and a step by step photo guide that makes it easy.

Learn more about the Asbestos Roof Hole Repair

Asbestos roof repair kit 8 easy ways to repair or refurbish your asbestos roof 8 Easy Ways to Repair or Refurbish Your Asbestos Roof asbestos roof repair kit 1

3) Bolt-hole Repairs

Bolt holes in your asbestos roof will eventually enlarge and the washer will corrode due to exposure to UV, making it ineffective. You can repair this by replacing the washer and bolt, or using a flexible tape or coating to seal the area. Where replacing the washer and bolt isn’t an option due to difficult access to the roof, the flexibility of crack repair tape is ideal. You can also apply an emergency repair coating to seal the bolt hole.

Learn more about The Asbestos Roof Bolt Repair Kit

Asbestos Roof Repair 8 easy ways to repair or refurbish your asbestos roof 8 Easy Ways to Repair or Refurbish Your Asbestos Roof untitled design 1

4) Sealing general roof sheet damage + cracks

Asbestos sheets will eventually deteriorate and that can mean leaks and water damage. This can lead to cracks. Nobody wants to watch their building and possessions being destroyed every rainfall. Many sealants don't have the durability for long term repair, particularly as frequent temperature changes cause the building to move. So even after repair, many building owners end up back on the roof.

That's why we only use UV stable, flexible, and highly durable repair solutions that can stand the test of time. You get a watertight repair that can stop your leak and seal your roof against the worst of the rain.

Learn more about the Asbestos Crack and Roof Sheet Repair Kit

Leaking asbestos garage roof 8 easy ways to repair or refurbish your asbestos roof 8 Easy Ways to Repair or Refurbish Your Asbestos Roof leaking asbestos garage roof

5) Asbestos Single Sheet Replacement

The traditional way is to remove the old sheet and replace with a new one. You can also use glass-reinforced plastic (fibreglass) GRP Oversheet, applied externally. GRP gives a guaranteed replacement lasting up to 50 years without deteriorating. It’s also completely waterproof, so you avoid the ongoing expense of treating it. GRP comes in various colours, and because it’s cold applied, you avoid the Health & Safety risks of heat treatment.

Find asbestos removal in your area

6) Refurbish with a specialist Coating

Coatings provide a permanent and highly effective waterproofing solution in an easy two step process. All loose asbestos fibres and lichen are encapsulated and bound with a Primer. Then a coating topcoat gives long-lasting protection and a completely weatherproof, UV and dirt-resistant roof that’s guaranteed to last for many years. When combined, the two components also encapsulate asbestos fibres and reduce the risk of their release, a comforting thought for all those spending time under the roof.

We’re the UK distributor for a wide range of coatings, meeting the demand for your every budget, desired longevity, climactic restriction and many other factors. We're all about choice, and our experts can provide everything from emergency patch repair to a long-term waterproofing solutions.

Want to learn more about coatings?

Learn more and get a free quote

8 easy ways to repair or refurbish your asbestos roof 8 Easy Ways to Repair or Refurbish Your Asbestos Roof asbestos roof repair 1

7) Over Cladding

When repairing asbestos cement roof damage with sealants or localised repairs isn’t possible, you could consider overcladding, by putting another roof (normally metal) on top of the old roof. This is a proven technique for repairing asbestos roofs and the next best method after coating. In most circumstances you’ll need to comply with current building regulations and add insulation to help reduce heating costs.

Learn more about overcladding your roof

Leaking asbestos roof 8 easy ways to repair or refurbish your asbestos roof 8 Easy Ways to Repair or Refurbish Your Asbestos Roof leaking asbestos roof

8) Repairing Roof Lights

Roof lights will eventually deteriorate, crack, leak, build up mildew and turn dark, so less natural light gets in. Repairing with tape is possible, but not ideal, and will restrict light further. Replacing the roof light is preferred, but working on roof lights is risky, especially if they’re in asbestos roofs.

There’s another solution, involving cleaning and coating the skylights with a tough, clear coating. This will improve the light tremendously and is far cheaper than new skylights. It’s also much less disruptive to your business and avoids having holes in your roof during the work.

Stop your roof lights from leaking with the liquid rubber SuperArmour.

We believe in good honest choices, and providing customers with independent advice about the options open to them. We've helped countless industrial building owners find a solution tailored to their needs, from emergency patch repair to full roof refurbishment, as well as catering for asbestos gutters and internal fibre encapsulation.

This post was taken from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/no-mess-roofing-takes-hassle-out-of-new-roof-installs-300448701.html